Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday

Hello Five for Friday! Thanks to Doodle Bugs.
Some of you may know that I live smack dab where the big fire is burning. It's been a week of ups and downs with acres and acres of beautiful land burned and many people evacuated from their homes. School has been cancelled until after Labor Day because of the smoke and because many of our evacuated families are displaced and have left the area. Here's a sign we made that looks so sad without all the kid art on it. We have paper prepped for the kids to make firemen and policemen when we finally get back to school.

A big thank you to all of the firefighters, police enforcement, PG&E, Animal Rescue, Evacuation Centers and on and on. It's been wonderful to watch all the support. The homemade signs lining our tiny town's street thanking the Firefighters is heartwarming!

This week I want to touch on some of the things I do during the first week of school to establish our classroom atmosphere. I don't claim to know it all, but I have been around a long, long time and I have found that the following things work well for me:

1. The Think It Over Chair:
Years ago I asked a good friend and teacher who I admired how she managed her classroom. Whenever I went in to visit, her class was very respectful, quiet and it just felt happy! The way she spoke to the children was genuinely kind. Her simple explanation was wonderful. She told me that the kids knew that she truly cared about them. It was sincere and the kids returned that love too. When you know that someone cares about you, you don't want to disappoint them.

Don't get me wrong, there were behavior issues. She had one of those "Mom looks" that could stop even me dead in my tracks (I've practiced and practiced but mine will never come close to hers. No one is afraid of me).  She dealt with them quickly and logically. The consequences were fair.  Then she moved on. Forgiveness was a "for sure" and no grudges were held. The kids at our school adored her.

Get to know your kids. Listen. Build the relationships, the community and let them know you care!

Here's what I tell my kids (the condensed version) :
You will make mistakes! Mrs. Welch makes lots. When you do:
1. Own it (lots of adults can't do this)
2. Fix it (if you've hurt someone, take care of them. If you've hurt something, fix it)
3. Apologize
4. Learn from it
5. Forgive and move on

If you need time to do that, go to the Think It Over Chair.

The Think It Over Chair comes from a discipline philosophy called Love and Logic. You might take some time to check it out. MY interpretation of The Think It Over Chair is that it isn't a teacher-imposed time out chair, but rather a chair that the child chooses to place him/herself in to calm down and think things over. It doesn't buy you a free pass though - we will still deal with the issue responsibly!

Our current chair is not great; it's hard and uncomfortable. I really want the Think It Over Chair to be a big, soft easy chair (I'm not sure how the Love and Logic people would feel about this). I've had little ones actually fall asleep in that chair, their rascally behavior usually the result of being tired, poor babies! Rocking chairs don't work; we found out that kids can rock really fast and loudly when they are unhappy! I wouldn't recommend pillows either, they can fly really far when you're mad!

2. Clean up songs
Find a really fun one. We used "Firework" last year by Katy Perry. Hilarious is all I can say. The dancing and dramatic singing were priceless. Our rule was you had to be at your circle spot before the music stopped. Everyone worked hard to get there early so they could break out the really special dance moves! I taught them how to sit down like Ellen DeGeneres does on her show. Made me smile every time!

3. Teacher Land
Anywhere that the kids are not allowed to get into is Teacher Land. Some examples are my desk, my computer, the area around the white board, the science cubby, the little refrigerator where I keep my secret stash of bon-bons, etc. I'm sure you have a few of these yourself.  Once we have located all the Teacher Land spots, I play M.C Hammer's song (not the video) "U Can't Touch This" and we dance around the classroom pointing at all the Teacher Land places  (Please be aware that this is a super long song). One year the Principal came in to welcome the Kinders to school during this little show and it was sort of awkward. I got observed five times that year (and I haven't worn my parachute pants ever again!).

4. Good Morning Greeting
Have a great fist bump greeting for every morning when your kids come through the door. I purposely goof it up sometimes just to make them giggle. Ours is a hand bump sort of thing that goes like this:
  A little bit of this, this (hands clap forward 2xs)
  A little bit of that, that (turn to backs of hands for 2xs)
  A little this, a little that ( hands forward once, back of hand once)
  A little, little this that (front and back)
5. Hall Song
Everyone needs a good hall song. My favorite:

Here we go a-just a walkin' down the hall
Singing doo wah ditty ditty dum ditty do
Teacher sings: We look Good.
Kids repeat:  We look good.
Teacher: We look fine.
Kids: We look fine.
All together: Don't we have a pretty line?

Have a great weekend!


  1. Always such great ideas! From now on I will always imagine you wearing parachute pants. :-)
    Whimsy Workshop Teaching

    1. Hi Susanna! You should see my MC Hammer moves!

  2. I am with Susanna! We need a picture! :) Love this post, Sandy. I have been keeping you and everyone in your area in my prayers. I am so sorry about the fires. I love that Think It Over chair. I totally get how they would fall asleep because they are tired out- you are right! You are so sweet. I bet your room just feels so loving.
    <a href=">Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together</a>

  3. Hi Carolyn!! We're all exhausted with worry and the smoke is horrific. All is safe for the moment in our little town. I'm excited to see my new kids. We were supposed to start school August 20th. I might have to break out my parachute pants the day after I wear my 1980's teacher dress! HA!

  4. Awesome list! I am going to start "teacher land" ASAP. I tell them those areas are "hot lava"! I think what you had to say about owning your own mistakes as the adult in the room is HUGE. I have had to say, "I'm sorry guys. I am grouchy today. Tomorrow will be better because I am going to go to bed earlier tonight!" :)

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